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He commenced the Latin language about the age of thirteen, in the Lexington Academy, where he gave convincing displays of his superior genius and talents. One of his classmates thus writes: "From his thirteenth year every thing about the Academy, except the instruction and discipline, was managed by him-all our sports, all our preparations for exhibition-the selection of the plays and speeches-the persons by whom they were to be spoken and acted, were all directed by him. Nobody assigned to him that business, and nobody charged him with assuming it, but he was always consulted, and his judgment was generally decisive."
In 1801 he finished his course in the Academy, and entered the Transylvania University. Here he continued about eighteen months, or two years, and then commenced the study of the civil law, with the celebrated Henry Clay. In pursuing this study, conscience, which had been enlightened by religious instruction, gave him much uneasiness, as he frequently had to devote part of the Sabbath to recitation.
In about six months an occurrence took place which brought him to serious inquiry and deep conviction. All the powers of his mind, and all the feelings of his heart, were engaged in the great concern. This was in the spring and summer of 1803, and in the eighteenth year of his age. Eventually he made a profession of religion, quit the study of law, and turned his attention to the gospel ministry.
In September, 1803, he put himself under the care of the Kentucky Presbytery of the Associate Reformed Church, who put him upon reviewing and extending
his literary acquirements, until the September, 1805. He was then sent on to the Theological Seminary es tablished by the Associate Reformed Church in the city of New-York. There he pursued his theological stu dies under the Rev. John M. Mason, D. D. for nearly four years; and stood foremost for piety, intellectual powers, and solid acquirements. Through his whole course, and indeed through the whole of after life, he was much exercised with respect to his own state and eternal concerns; so that his studies were not merely systematic or theoretical, but pursued under the serious desire of obtaining the knowledge of the Truth for the life and comfort of his own soul before the omniscient God.
Having finished his course at New-York, he returned to Kentucky, married a daughter of D. Logan, esq. and was licensed to preach the gospel, November, 1809. His discourses were generally considered excellent, particularly by those of enlarged and cultivated minds. But having some collision with the Presbytery, and declaiming against preachers having double and treble charges, and against their starvation by the people, he excited powerful opposition; and the purse strings, in the alarm excited, were drawn so closely, that he rode the first year of his probationary state among the vacant congregations, and received but about ten dollars.
Sometime after his licensure he received an invitation to visit a congregation in Baltimore, whose minis ter had professed an intention to resign; but changing
his mind, the people with deep regret had to countermand their invitation to Mr. M'Chord.
In April, 1811, he was ordained, and sent as a delegate to the General Synod, and to preach a short time to a congregation in New-York, that had invited him with an intention of giving him a call. Through some untoward circumstances they could not agree: and Dr. Mason, who wished him as a colleague, could not persuade his congregation to enter into the measure. Mr. M'Chord returned to Kentucky, and as the subject of intercommunion with other churches was at this time agitated in the Associate Reformed Synod and Presbyteries, and as he did not pursue the course which was pleasing to his brethren in the West, unhappy feelings and differences arose, which involved him in difficulties and troubles, until death terminated them. In 1913 he went through one series of prosecution and came off triumphant.
In 1814 be published a work, entitled The Body of Christ, which was supposed to contain some errors. He was called to answer for it, Oct. 1815, before the Presbytery, and was suspended from the exercise of his ministerial office. He appealed to the General Synod, but being unable at the next meeting to prosecute the appeal through bodily indisposition, the case was submitted to a committee, one of whom had for sometime, through mortified pride, been hostile to him, and has since showed his hostility to the morality of the Bible. This committee reported unfavourably to Mr. M'Chord, and recommended to Synod that he should be required to cease from the exercise of his ministry until he ap
peared to prosecute his appeal. He appeared before the Synod, May, 1817, and in a very able manner supported his appeal and the justice of his cause. The Synod, however, having prejudged the cause, and being handled not very gently by the appellant, theyconfirmed the sentence of Presbytery. Mr. M'Chord anticipated the result, and upon the ground of their illegal and unrighteous proceedings, put in a declinature of their authority, and appealed to churches who might be disposed to do him justice. He accordingly applied to the Presbytery of West Lexington the ensuing fall, who considered his views on the whole correct, and received him to their fellowship, and to exercise the ministerial office under and among them.
A small society in Lexington had erected previously to this a very elegant church, where he laboured with some success, but under various difficulties and discouragements, until the fall of 1819, when, being invited to take charge of the Bourbon Academy, he complied, and removed to Paris. He had from 1813 been afflicted with a fistula, which had now affected his whole frame, and produced great debility. It, with close confinement, hard study, and application to his official duties, brought on a complication of disease, under which he sunk, May 26th, 1820. In his last illness his reason was at times deranged, but in his lucid moments his piety and his hope were conspicuous. Not long before his departure he sung, with all the fervour of heavenly devotion,
"On Jordan's stormy banks I stand
To Canaan's fair and happy Jand,
Mr. M'Chord was of the middle size, delicate and slender in his person. His constitution was by far too weak for the operations of his powerful mind; which was not merely strong, but rapid in its movements, rush. ing with the eye and force of the eagle through all the windings and different bearings of whatever subject arrested his attention. It was connected with a strong and rich imagination, and a heart of the most delicate and noble feeling. The grovelling and the mean, the sycophantic and intriguing, he abhorred and pitied. But the honourable and manly, the gentle and childlike, found in him every thing that was responsive. At his first entrance on the ministry he took a lofty stand, such as he considered suitable to his office, and from which no persecution could drive him, and no allurements could decoy him. Never did he court favour or popular applause, and never did he cower before the "iron mace" raised to crush him. Trusting his cause to his Master, he moved on fearlessly in the course of duty, blending the dignity of the heavenly ambassador with the simplicity and lowliness of a little child.
The limits of this sketch will not permit us to review the works which he published. It may be sufficient to say, that no writings of the west have met with such an extensive and respectable patronage as his. A highly cultivated taste, or cold criticism, may censure his style, and point out many blemishes which mark his produc tions. Shakespeare, the poets, and the peculiar movements of his own mind, appear to have given the lead